Many people own cats or dogs as pets they cherish as special companions. Some have dogs to provide safety and to protect people and property.

However, for more than a year, they’ve become more of a concern than a comfort for many people in Big Lakes County.

As a result, council is clamping down on stray and feral cats that have become a growing concern and risk in hamlets.

At its June 28 meeting, council added a section in its animal control bylaw to regulate roaming and feral cats. Council placed a limit of three cats on any property in a hamlet.

No doubt other rural municipalities have had to deal with wild and dangerous animals that people own as pets.

People expect their community to be safe and healthy for themselves, families, young children and seniors. They want to be able to be free to enjoy walking and being out in their own community without the risk of being in danger from cats and dogs. Residents expect their neighbours and others to be responsible citizens of the community.

Most people enjoy cats and dogs in their neighbourhood, but when the often-friendly animals become a risk in the community, it’s time for authorities to take action.

Big Lakes County Reeve Robert Nygaard fears for the safety of young children who will get attacked by a cat.

“There’s going to be a time when cats will attack a young child,” Nygaard said while council discussed the proposed bylaw at its meeting June 14.

Roaming and feral cats in hamlets first became a problem in Kinuso in May 2022. Then in the past two months, the concerns have extended into Joussard and Faust. Those hamlets are also prime destinations for tourists around Lesser Slave Lake.

What will happen if a roaming cat or dog attacks, bites, or injuries a tourist? It will not take long for word to get around that it might be advisable to stay away from parts of Big Lakes County because of dangerous cats and dogs.

Where are the owners of those cats and dogs? Where are the responsible owners? – emphasizing the word “responsible”.

Municipalities and communities wouldn’t have to enact bylaws for animals if only the owners would be responsible and make sure their pets are not a danger to anyone.

If pet owners in hamlets and residential areas can’t take care of their animals, perhaps they need to move to a rural area or farm.

Unfortunately, it costs municipalities – and taxpayers – to administer and enforce bylaws because of irresponsible pet owners.

What will it take to make irresponsible pet owners responsible? When dogs and cats are impounded, maybe the owner needs to spend time with their pet in the animal control facility.

Lesson learned?

Just think about it!

Be responsible!

by Richard Froese

This item copyrighted by / South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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